With the April 15 deadline to file taxes for 2019 approaching, taxpayers should be on the lookout for scams.

Scammers frequently prey on taxpayers by impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or FTB employees, according to a recent California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) press release. Via calling and emailing, con artists try to trick people into sending money not owed or providing personal information that may be used to file fraudulent returns and steal refunds.

If FTB or IRS staff are reaching out to a taxpayer to verify a return or discuss a bill, both agencies start by sending a letter in the mail. If there is no response, staff will call and identify themselves, never threatening a person and never demanding an immediate tax payment over the phone.

Scammers have also been stealing personal data from tax preparers and businesses. Preparers and business owners who may have been targeted should contact FTB at 916-845-7088 and select option one.

Taxpayers are urged to report tax scams and identity theft schemes to FTB as soon as possible, preferably online. The IRS offers a list of common scams and encourages taxpayers to forward phishing scam emails to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

Taxpayers should be suspicious of the following:

• Any phone call or email requesting passwords or information about credit cards and bank accounts. FTB and IRS agents never ask for these details.

• Threats to contact local police or other law enforcement if a tax debt is not paid.

• Demands for payment by third-party or prepaid debit cards.

If a letter from FTB or the IRS appears to be suspicious, contact the FTB at 800-852-5711 or the IRS at 800-829-1040 to verify authenticity. Taxpayers may also check the “Common Notices” webpage at ftb.ca.gov and the “Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter” webpage at IRS.gov.

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